A stand-off opened this week in the Himalayas as Indian troops confronted Chinese military forces building a road through the disputed Doklam plateau, with each side accusing the other of crossing into its territory. The Doklam (Chinese: Donglang) plateau lies where the borders of India’s Sikkim sector and China’s Tibet Autonomous Region converge with that of the small independent kingdom of Bhutan—which is being drawn into the conflict between the nuclear-armed Asian giants. Bhutan issued its own complaint over the enroachment of Chinese troops on its territory. But having no direct relations with Beijing, Bhutan lodged the complaint via India’s diplomatic corps. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded by implying that India has a “hidden agenda” in the matter and is manipulating Bhutan.
India-China stand-offs along the Himalayan border have been recurrent in recent years. Amid this latest border crisis, China this week blocked the entry of Indian pilgrims traveling to Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet through the Nathu La pass, in retaliation for India’s alleged military incursion into Chinese territory. The remote Doklam plateau is strategic because it lies just 50 kilometers from the narrow Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken’s Neck”—a potential choke-point that connects India’s northeastern states to the rest of the country. (PTI, PTI, NDTV, TNN, June 29; Deccan Herald, June 28)